Comparing Apples to Oranges? More Condos Adopting Co-op Rules

Co-op apartment buildings were originally formed in New York City to allow building residents to buy into and have a say in how their building was administered, as well as who their neighbors were, and what those neighbors were allowed to do within the building. This is in contrast to condos, which are real property. As such, their owners are typically not subject to the intense scrutiny and regulation co-op shareholders can be.

That being said however, some condo boards in the city have begun adopting more co-op-like rules and regulations in an attempt to exert more control over their building communities. This has caused some friction in certain building communities, and raised legal questions about just how much control a condo board can wield over its residents.

Apples and Oranges

Before examining the current trend of stricter rules and regulations, it is necessary to review the fundamental differences between co-ops and condos.

A cooperative is a corporation—like ExxonMobil or General Motors, for example. Residents own shares of that corporation—the number of shares proportionate to the size of the apartment occupied. There is no master deed to the property rather a proprietary lease. In this sense, the residents don’t technically own their apartments, just the right to occupy them. This technicality has a long history in New York case law.

“According to New York law, they are tenants,” says Adam Leitman Bailey, the principal of Manhattan-based law firm Adam Leitman Bailey PC, of co-op residents. “The co-op is considered the landlord.”

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4 Comments

  • I want to know what i can do? i'm being forced to put a STICKER parking permit on my car. i feel violated to do so. I don't mind putting up the sticker when i'm in used. but to permantely stick it on my car and can't be removed. what can i do? i lived in a co-op.
  • Board President Mitchell Lama on Friday, December 09, 2011 7:28 PM
    You do not mention where on the car the sticker is required. In my co-op we require it on the back of the rear view mirror or hanging from the rear view mirror. This identifies, easily, an authorized to park automobile. When the towing company we pay and allow on the property comes through, any car that does not display the sticker is subject to towing at shareholders expense. Garage parking is a privilege not an entitlement to living in the co-op. Parking is scarce on city streets and co-op parking should be reserved and protected for legal occupants of the co-op..
  • our co-op relently had a number of shaireholders pass away. the bebificiaries have taken their time in paying the maintanence fees to the point of nearly $35,000.00 shortfall for the co-op each month for over a year. we do charge $50.00 each month as a late fee but that has not helped. are we allowed to charge a % of around 10% on monies owned, per day? maybe this would motivaet them? thank you
  • The by-laws for my condo specifically state the unit owner is responsible for any floor coveirng, be it carpets, floor tiles, or any type whatsoever. However the board made up a rule in a procedure sheet stating the top floor units must have carpeted apartements. As they have no right to make up this rule since there is nothing in by-laws stating that they should have followed procedures and had the unit owners vote on it. If approved by 75% of our owners it can be amended to the by-laws. The board now tried to tell me I have to cover 80% of my floor with carpeting. As it clearly states they do not take responsibilty for the floors and since it says I can decorate, repair, maintain, or replace anything that services my unit at my expense do they not have to have this rule about 80% also voted in? In our by-laws it states that by-laws have to have 75% of the unit owners approval while rules/regulations (house rules) need to have the vote of a majority in common interest of all unit owners present at the meeting. My question is would this fall under a by-law or a house rule?